11 November 2017 – Tsendze
How fantastic to wake to the sounds of the dawn chorus in the bush. It was already getting light at 4:30 am and that’s when the gate opens. But we had no intention of making such an early start. I went to shower at the ablution block just after 5 and we were packed and ready to leave at 6:30
Our first exciting event was an encounter with Ayres Hawk-eagle. There were actually two. The light was bad so the photo is not great but we found this one on a kill.
We also got a good sighting of the common black-shouldered kite – but what a pretty bird.
Elephants, buffalo, hippo, wildebeest and zebra were also on the menu and we got to see a lot of birdlife. Here are a few photos that we managed to get.
A rarity in the park is an antelope similar to a red hartebeest – the Tsessebe – We found a few of them which was lovely.
Time wore on and we were getting hungry. We decided to head back toward Mopani and have something to eat there. After a few hours of game driving you rather hope that you won’t see anything exciting as all you want is to have a break and get some strong coffee into you. I yelled at the earl to stop with a couple of interesting birds but either I was too late or he’d lost interest because he just drove on. Thank Goodness for that because just a few kms from camp we spotted some stationery cars – always a good sign – It has to be a leopard, I said and as we got closer I spotted a tail hanging down from the branch of a tree. Oh joy – all thoughts of coffee and food disappeared in an instant. There was a young leopard on a kill up in the tree. And was she having a delightful breakfast – lucky creature. If we’d delayed over the birds I’d called we would have missed her as after a minute she slid down the tree, washed her paws and slipped off into the bush! Gone! The only evidence were the remains of impala hanging in the tree!
We lingered long over breakfast at Mopani as its restaurant has such a lovely view over the river. We saw marabou storks and watched greater striped swallows take off and land back in the branches of the trees again. There was a lot of activity. I had a second cup of coffee while the Earl went to another section of the facility to pay accounts and send emails from his laptop.
We like to rest in camp in the middle of the day and it was now just after 11. We just did one more loop to Mooiplaas Picnic site, spotted some birds and hippos and then did a little river loop where we saw buffalo and elephant.
We got back to camp around 1 o’clock and rested until 3:30 and then went out again. We saw all the usual suspects and were not expecting anything too exciting. It was nearing 6 o’clock when we were in sight of this morning’s leopard tree and gate closing is at 6:30. And what should we see – three cars stopped at the tree.
“They’re probably looking at the carcass,” I said the Earl.
But no as we got closer I saw that the leopard was back.
But wait there’s more – “Look there,” said The Earl, “There’s another one in the tree.”
And then all hell broke loose as the two leopards started growling and slapping each other.
After a brief skirmish one decided she’d better get out of there and slipped down the tree and disappeared into the bush. The victor sat in the split in the tree for a few minutes looking for all the world like any domestic kitty cat.
Then he climbed onto the branch where the impala carcass was and proceeded to finish his meal.
Soon other cars appeared and in the end there were five of us watching this amazing sight. It gets dark quickly in the Kruger and by 6:10 I had enough photographs in good light. It was time to head quickly back to camp before the gate was locked! We made it with 10 minutes to spare